Arugula 3 ways: Mushroom gnocchi

Time for dinner and the rest of my arugula. This last dish is a pasta with mushrooms and eggplant, sauced with an arugula drizzle. It’s the same idea as pesto, but without the parmesan cheese (because I didn’t have it on hand).

This may be my favorite of the three arugula dishes, though each won me over in its own way. The smoothie was bright sweet and the soup refreshing, but the mushrooms and eggplant gave this recipe layers of complex flavors.

What I learned about arugula through this experiment is that while it has a very strong flavor, the greens work best when serving as a background to other complementary flavors. Bring out arugula’s sweetness with fruit, mellow it out with avocado or let it serve as the zing in the background of a substantive veggie pasta.

Regardless of which way you go, remember that arugula is for a lot more than salads, and think about whether you can put it to a second use before tossing leaves that have lost their crispness.

Eggplant and mushroom gnocchi with arugula drizzle
Several components in this dish can be prepared ahead of time. Feel free to buy the gnocchi from the store, though I used homemade semolina pasta that was sitting in my freezer.

Prepare the veggies ahead of time by cubing 1 eggplant and roasting it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes with some olive oil and salt. Saute the sliced mushrooms with 1/2 tsp. each of oregano and crushed red pepper for 5 minutes to brown.

1. If using fresh gnocchi, cook in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes or until al dente. Otherwise, follow box instructions.

2. To prepare the drizzle, place about 12 stems of arugula leaves, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 2 tb. slivered almonds, and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor. Start the processor and pour in about 1/4 c. of olive oil slowly until the ingredients form a sauce. Use more oil if needed.

3. In a pot over medium heat, mix together the gnocchi, eggplant, mushrooms and arugula drizzle. Add reserved pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce.

This stores well and is enough for 2 dinner portions. Ready in 50 minutes.

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